I put the shells onto many different kinds of backgrounds, backgrounds that are not ocean, not sand. The olive ground is earthy, almost like grass. The shell has a sort of wing, like a stone bird. Drawing the sea shell launched it into a sort of motion that I never intended. Drawing often leads to various surprises. Draw to learn, draw to see, draw to think.
The little sea shell is dwarfed by koi.
The pastel is dust. Shell of dust, colored like earth and sky.
It’s always seemed to me, when looking at the works of the old masters, that the parts of their paintings, as you get close to see them, are as enchanting as the entirety of their paintings and that the structure of the small details echoes the organization of the whole. A certain logic governs throughout the image and that logic scales so that the same thought process is carried through pretty much wherever you look.
I want that quality in my paintings. Moreover, thinking about it in this way gives me ideas about how to finish a painting. After all, what if I take some portion and pretend that it’s now the whole image. It gives everything a new relationship to everything else. Imagine a grid overlaying the whole painting and inside that grid are smaller paintings, each one needing attention.
But this grid isn’t static. It’s not as though I really drew a regular, mathematical grid over the painting, rather — imagine a grid that moves, that changes its scale depending upon where you’re looking. And for all the shapes and forms contained in that grid at whatever juncture, there’s a new painting — one that needs to make sense in all its parts. The part becomes a whole that has in its turn smaller parts.
This is more of an ideal than a specific practice. After all my problem is procrastination. My imaginary grid turns one painting potentially into many miniature paintings. That would seem to multiply the problem rather than solve it. So I don’t take my analogy literally.
But I do look at the painting as needing to make sense all over, in the large scale and in the small.